Everyone has had at least one in their career. You’ve probably had a lot more than one if you’re a freelancer. The good news is that there are tested steps that you can take to decrease the chances of you landing one of those terrible clients by mistake!
1. Always compose a contract.
Freelancers tend to shy away from writing contracts because it’s a lot of work with seemingly little payout – but that is so far from the truth! Having a well laid out, organized, thoughtful contract in place can save you from the wrath of a terrible client. A contract will set the stage for basic ground rules that you and your client will abide by: hours, pay, limitations, timeframe, scope of work, etc. A contract is one of the easiest ways to avoid a terrible experience with a client.
2. Agree upon a scope of work.
A scope of work is a document that lays out for the client exactly what action(s) you plan to perform to get them to the agreed upon deliverable(s). Without a scope of work you will be at the mercy of your clients. If you’ve landed yourself a terrible one, you can pretty much guarantee they will take advantage of you. It is human nature to take as much as someone is willing give. Your client doesn’t even need to be terrible to do this, it could happen to anyone. Scopes of work are another item that is time consuming, but so worth it in the end.
3. Remember that your time is valuable.
Thinking like a top executive or business owner is the best way to avoid wasting it. If you are being paid to complete a project and not for each hour you work, you are more likely to create a stellar deliverable in less time – saving the client money while making you more – what we all love! It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing “a few small things” on top of the agreed upon scope of work to make a client happy, but if you have a tight, thought out scope of work, this will happen less frequently.
4. Write everything down.
This isn’t just great advice for the SAT, it’s also great life advice! As a freelancer, you are responsible for your financial records, work agreements, and so much more. If you write everything down you are less likely to be questioned later by a terrible client, or you’ll at least be able to prove to them that you are in the right.
5. Have confidence in your hourly rate.
What you set your rate as is a great way to filter out terrible clients. Clients who expect more for less are not the type of clients you want to work for. Trust your expertise and your hourly rate, but most of all, trust your ability. If you have confidence in your work you will attract people who also have that same confidence in you.